Flip the Music Classroom with YouTube Videos

The Challenge

Mr. Chung is a music teacher at University Neighborhood High School in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. On average, he has more than thirty students per class period, making it virtually impossible for all of them to watch him playing instruments up close. Anyone who has learned to play an instrument knows how important these demonstrations are and on top of that, students can easily fall behind if they miss a class, because the lessons are taught “live” without a textbook or any other supplementary resources.

The Solution

While working with Kyle Liao, an instructional technology coach from Educate LLC, Mr. Chung began experimenting with video as a possible solution to the challenges he faced in his music classroom. At first, the Educate coach recorded Mr. Chung playing a few of the songs he’d been teaching in class, sharing them with students via YouTube. Mr. Chung quickly realized that the digital generation was excited to watch the videos outside of class time and continue practicing their instruments at home.

Over time, he saw the value in this model and since has been able to completely flip his classroom using video. As his work with the Educate coach progressed, he was able to create a Google Site to organize the growing video catalog, embed teacher notes, and annotate the clips. Mr. Chung now records all of his lessons and instrument demonstrations. He even encourages students to make their own demo videos as a rigorous form of assessment (i.e. high on Depth of KnowledgeBloom’s Taxonomy).

The Outcome

By recording his lessons and demonstrations, Mr. Chung can ensure that every student properly sees and hears his music instruction, even if they happen to miss a day of class. Moreover, student engagement has increased exponentially because students love using their personal mobile devices as a part of the learning experience. “They are way more willing to watch a video on YouTube than to listen to the words coming out of my mouth in the classroom,” he jokes.

In addition to increased engagement and better focus during classroom sessions, students are now spending more of their free time watching the videos and practicing their instruments. Mr. Chung also uses the videos as a form of differentiation, as students can pause and rewind the clips, learning the music at their own pace. Since the  majority of the instruction can now be done independently, students are less intimidated to get started with a new song or instrument. Their confident performances speak for themselves!

Make it happen in your classroom…

The Tools

The Steps

1. Record each lesson using a format that allows for a gradual release of responsibility where students can hear from the teacher first, try it along with the video, then pause the video and practice solo.
2. Upload and organize the videos on a classroom YouTube channel or other video hosting service approved by your district. If you use G Suite for Education, you can also easily create a free Google site and organize the videos there.
3. Record other demonstrations so that students can practice a variety of songs and techniques alongside a video example. Make sure each video has a specific and clear focus (such as playing a scale, a new song, or learning a chord).
4. Plan and teach classroom procedures that allow students to leverage computers or mobile devices to access the videos alongside their instruments. Consider allowing them to use their own cell phones if your school’s policy allows for it.
5. In order to assess students, have them record themselves playing their instrument and upload it as a private YouTube video or in a Google Drive folder for later review.